Congratulations! Expecting a child is one of the greatest events in family life. If you are pregnant (or wanting to get pregnant), having a healthy start will benefit you and your child immensely. Mapping out a wellness plan and knowing the supports you can avail will help you before, during and even after your pregnancy.
Tips for a happy and healthy pregnancy:
Connect with a health care provider
Go to your family doctor to get a pregnancy test. You can ask about your health care options while you are there. Ask for translation services if you can’t speak English or French.
- Do you have an obstetrician or a midwife already? In Manitoba, you can have a doctor or a midwife to assist you in your pregnancy. You can also hire a doula who can provide additional support, especially if you are expecting a difficult pregnancy and delivery. Read Health tips for expectant and new moms to know how to get these services.
- Attend regular check-ups – Regular check-ups with your health care provider will ensure that you and your baby are healthy throughout your pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to check and correct possible issues before they become a problem.
What to expect during your check-ups:
- Your health care provider will weigh you, check your blood pressure, listen to the baby’s heartbeat and measure your stomach.
- They will tell you about tests for you and the baby. They will discuss when your future check-ups will be. Normally, you have to go to the doctor once a month for the first 7-8 months. After this, it will be every two weeks.
- They will ask you how you are feeling. Tell them if you are experiencing something unusual or if you have concerns about nutrition, exercise, and others. It is good to ask questions to ease your worries.
- They may ask for blood and urine tests at each appointment.
- Know your birthing options – Consult your health care professional about your birthing options. In Winnipeg, women give birth at Health Science Centre’s Women’s Hospital or at St. Boniface Hospital. If you have a midwife and you are expecting a normal delivery, you may give birth at the Birth Centre at the Women’s Health Clinic or at home. Go to Rural Programs and Support if you are not in Winnipeg.
Around 20 weeks of pregnancy, you will have an appointment for an ultrasound test. This will help the doctor see the baby’s age and health. During this test, you will be able to see your baby on the screen. You may also see if the baby is a boy or a girl. At some hospitals, you can ask for a copy of the ultrasound photos for free (some may offer it at a cost).
Join a Healthy Baby Program
Talk to Neighbourhood Immigrant Settlement Workers (NISW) in your area. They can tell you about the Manitoba Prenatal Benefit which provides financial aid to support a healthy pregnancy as well as referrals to Healthy Baby Community Support programs and resources. Joining these programs have enormous physical, mental and social benefits:
- You will learn great tips for your health. You will also be more equipped when the baby comes since you’ll learn about taking care of the baby, breastfeeding and parenting.
- Being new to the province, you may not know other people, especially other pregnant women who can share the experience with you. Joining a Healthy Baby Program will connect you with other pregnant moms through prenatal classes and other activities.
- Aside from socialization, peer support is important. There may be services that you don’t know about that may be essential to you. You can learn about these through the facilitator or from other participants.
Remember that you are now eating for two! A good diet will lift your mood and give you enough energy. It will also contribute to your baby’s healthy growth and development. Aside from eating nutritious food and staying hydrated, your health care provider may also prescribe a prenatal multivitamin to ensure that you and your baby will receive the right amount of nutrients every day.
What to avoid:
- Avoid foods that may be contaminated by bacteria such as raw fish and seafood, non-dried deli meats (ex: bologna, ham, turkey breast), unpasteurized cheeses, or raw sprouts.
- No alcohol
- No smoking
Download The Sensible Guide to Healthy Pregnancy from Canada.ca to guide you about prenatal nutrition and good oral health during pregnancy. You will also know what to expect at every stage of pregnancy and post-pregnancy.
Exercise during pregnancy has been found to lower blood pressure, promote healing, help with sleep and prevent gestational diabetes. Plus, it also helps keep your mood and energy up, regulates your weight, builds your strength for delivery, and eases back pain (Fit pregnancy.com).
Generally, pregnant women can do mild to moderate exercise (15-30 minutes a day, four days a week). These are activities like walking and prenatal yoga. The first step should always be to consult your doctor about the types of exercises that would be good for you.
No to stress
The physical and hormonal changes that you are going through can cause stress. Add to this the normal worries and fears parents feel when expecting a child. This can cause harm to your emotional well-being and affect your baby’s health and development. To manage stress during this period, you should:
- Have someone to talk to – Be it your husband, partner, mom, best friend, counsellor, or another pregnant mom, make sure that you have someone who can support you in this period. It is important to verbalize your feelings and ask for help when you need it.
- Meditate – Meditation and other techniques like deep breathing, stretching and listening to music can help calm yourself in stressful situations. These short but effective methods can help you when you are in the middle of a busy workday or when you are at home trying to cope with daily situations.
- Pamper yourself – Go to a spa or beauty salon offering pregnancy massage treatments. Get a pedicure or facial. If you want to stay at home, watch a feel-good movie or read a good novel. You deserve some “me time” every now and then and feel good about yourself.
- Have enough rest and sleep – When you are tired, take a nap or sleep early. Sleep is important for your mental health and supports a healthy pregnancy.
- Think positive – This should be a time of happy anticipation for your coming bundle of joy. After doing all that you can to prepare and stay healthy, expect good things to come. Try and focus more on the positive side of things and rely on the support of those around you.
Looking for maternity clothes and supplies? Major department stores sell maternity clothes and other accessories as well as babies’ clothes, furniture and supplies (such as diapers, bottles, etc.) in Manitoba. But if you are looking for more affordable alternatives, wait for garage sale season during spring and summer. Look out for the ones in your community or check bulletins. Thrift stores and online classifieds such as Kijiji or buy and sell groups on Facebook offer a variety of goods. Just make sure to inspect before buying. Always read tags, especially for baby car seats and check if they meet safety standards.
Sources: Having a baby in Manitoba, video produced by Northpoint Productions; The sensible guide to healthy pregnancy, Canada.ca; 18 bazillion benefits of exercise during pregnancy, Suzanne Schlosberg, Fit Pregnancy; and 11 ways to survive stress in pregnancy, Baby Centre. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
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